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As When I Did Not Exist

ISSUE:  Spring 1981
Meister Eckhart

At the beginning of a good prayer fear
is useful, to the extent that
I gorged again (at last!) on a shank
of rancid lamb at daybreak, that nothing,
not even you, might further contaminate
my desire. It was denied. A few moments more,
and into the Godhead:
a gelatinous blue stripe caked with snow,
the ignition of breaths in bone air.


Group E is the name I give them, those
items in ambush that will resemble
today more closely tomorrow:
I noticed a piece of lead deeply embedded
in my palm.
It is not always with me.
I was shown a wooden contraption used to
attract and amuse children, the very horror
of which prevents me from telling its story.
I keep thinking you have a smaller body.
I searched for a lost prayerbook. Looking
four times into an iron drawer, I convinced
myself of its disappearance. I found mice
glutting on the lace edge of Christ’s valentine.
My only visitors behaved as though they
were dead: and this has been my joy!


My wife, sir, I never mentioned.
All things renounced played no part
in my beginning.
I cut her lips once. I suspect
she reminded me of you. Like bloodberries
the droplets began to harden.
I daubed them with snow.
Later, she thanked me, while
learning to live in silence.


More than once
I have been no one,
as you well know yourself
to be. Earlier, I fancied
myself whatever I saw: chickens
with their bodies lopped off, the
thumbprint of petals, pulled quills,
chartreuse stains on the linen of illness,
red vessels of lightning in a nostril,
a crop of birds rising to a snowy buttress!
Never mind the soul:
we worked together like a pair of eyes
until new things began to recede. I took
the short distance back to myself.
It served to remind me of what it is
that wastes in wasted time.


A century later. Ocean skies
bloated with calm.
Boats drifting with purpose.
Time feasting on this time.
I stare at my hands. A great drink
from which you are missing
is refused.


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